December 11, 2009

The Mathematics of Sharing Pizza

Filed under: Internet, Math — Jonathan @ 9:19 pm

When several hungry but cash-challenged college students chip in for a pizza, cutting it into equal and fair slices become very important. So important that mathematicians Rick Mabry and Paul Deiermann looked into the problem that emerges when the pizza cutter does not slice exactly through the center of the pie. This is known as the complete pizza theorem.

Their quest started in 1994, when Deiermann showed Mabry a revised version of the pizza problem, again published in Mathematics Magazine (vol 67, p 304). Readers were invited to prove two specific cases of the pizza theorem. First, that if a pizza is cut three times (into six slices), the person who eats the slice containing the pizza’s centre eats more. Second, that if the pizza is cut five times (making 10 slices), the opposite is true and the person who eats the centre eats less.

Only the first statement was proven. Deiermann and Mabry worked on proving the second off and on until their breakthrough in 2006. Now that they have proven the theorem, they are working on other problem, such as how to divide a calzone.

More information: link
Story taken from Neatorama

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